IP, Technology & Data

I have an article in last month’s edition of Computing magazine. The article looks at the recent Article 29 Working Party opinion on data protection and geolocation services. Geolocation services are services that utilise the geolocation data (mobile phone triangulation, GPS, wifi hotspot) on a mobile device.

The article is important reading if you are involved in developing apps or other web-based services that utilise geolocation data. Whilst the Article 29 Working Party’s opinions are not binding law, the opinions do reflect the thinking of the various national data protection regulators, and are also likely to feed into the forthcoming revamp of the data protection directive.

As with a number of other opinions issued by the Article 29 Working Party recently, this opinion focusses heavily on the issue of consent. In particular, it proposes a number of onerous (some might say impractical) obligations upon service providers in relation to obtaining express consent. These go against the UK Information Commissioner’s current guidance on privacy policies which generally takes the view the obvious use does not require to be expressly highlighted.

I think there are also a number of flawed assumptions in how geolocation data is used.

For me, the key thing to take from the opinion is that the Article 29 Working Party doesn’t really understand how geolocation services work. It is therefore critical that those in the industry take part in the consultation on the revised data protection directive to ensure that the new laws are pragmatic and fit for purpose.

You can read my article here.

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Martin Sloan

Partner at Brodies LLP
Martin is a partner in Brodies Technology, Information and Outsourcing group and has wide experience of advising clients on technology procurement and IT and business process outsourcing projects. Martin also advises on data protection (including the GDPR), and general technology and intellectual property law, and has a particular interest in the laws applying to social media and new technology such as mobile apps, contactless/mobile payments, and smart metering.
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